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Meaningful and Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

Inexpensive gifts CAN be meaningful, in fact, they are often more meaningful since they are often made by the giver. I’ve rounded up some of my favorite inexpensive Christmas gifts that cost a dollar or less to make.

image of gifts wrapped in brown paper with twine and string

For many years our family lived at or below the poverty level. Carl, my husband, was in school (university and Seminary) for the first ten years of our marriage.Then from 2008-2012 Carl, who is our main breadwinner, didn’t have a full-time job; he worked several part-time jobs concurrently.

Now, I don’t say this so you can feel sorry for us; these were amazing years. In fact, we wrote a book about our four year unemployment season and how we actually thrived during it. 

I’m telling you this because I really want to give you perspective for this post. There were many years when $5 might have well have been $500. We just didn’t have it.

We could have just opted out of Christmas and our family would have totally understood. We have a really great family like that. But we want our children to be givers and not just receivers and we wanted them to see their parents be givers and not just receivers. So we had to get creative. 

I wonder how many people opt out of Christmas because they don’t have any extra money? It makes me sad because our focus on gift giving has gotten way off track.

So, I went hunting for gifts that could be made for a dollar or less. For some of these things you might need tools or need to buy something that will make more than one item. But, for the most part, each item is made with supplies that cost less than a dollar. 

image of wooden sign this looks like a clock and says "Faith in God includes faith in his timing."

One year our older daughter made painted little wood signs for everyone. This one is mine. She used acrylic paint, thin craft plywood and tulle ribbon.

image of earring holder made out of a picture frame and chicken wire

This wasn’t a gift but I think it would make a nice gift. This is what my daughter hangs her earrings and necklaces on; a thrifted frame with chicken wire attached to the back (she used a staple gun) and a wire across the bottom for necklaces. You could also use a piece of burlap instead of chicken wire.

image of sign that has the last name Schneider on it.

I just love this sign. I made them for each couple in our family a couple of years ago after seeing this idea for a JOY sign from An Oregon Cottage.  I just used scrapbooking paper and printed out the letters on our computer. I got the frames from the thrift store and spray painted them.

Inexpensive Christmas Gifts that cost $1 or less

Inexpensive Christmas gifts can also be meaningful! Use this this to get idea for meaningful gifts that cost a dollar or less.

You can find more gifts that cost a little more than a dollar on our Handmade Christmas page

A quick internet search will turn up some really amazing art made from pallets – everything from Welcome signs to tables. Free pallets are everywhere, just ask before taking one. 

image of a cribbage board made from a cedar tree log

If you have a drill press consider making a cribbage board. My son made these one year from a branch from a tree that needed to be cut down.

Homemade jams and jellies also make great, inexpensive Christmas gifts. If you need help with edible gift ideas you might consider Gift It From Scratch ebook. It’s full of great recipes and fun (and frugal) gift giving ideas. 

If you are struggling financially this Christmas, don’t opt out of Christmas and for goodness sake, don’t go into debt buying  things that people don’t really need or want. There are so many meaningful, inexpensive Christmas gifts that don’t cost much money that you can give to your loved ones. 

collage image of silhouette, pick up sticks, fabric gift bag, and bath salts for inexpensive Christmas gifts

Do you have a meaningful, inexpensive Christmas gift idea to share? Please leave a comment telling us about it. Feel free to leave a link to a tutorial. 

Thanks for sharing with your friends!

Kristi Stone

Saturday 8th of December 2018

I love this! I'm thinking that I will be making candles and soap for sure in 2019 to give for Christmas, and perhaps some crocheted washcloths to go with. I love your ideas so much, though, that I will be adding a few to the gift box, and perhaps wrap in kraft paper with nice ribbon, and a sprig of pine from our trees. There's really not a lot at the store that people don't seem to already buy for themselves, or the less expensive counterparts are not the model receivers want, etc. Thanks for these ideas! (coming here from your newsletter)

Angi Schneider

Sunday 9th of December 2018

Exactly! We live in a culture of such abundance and honestly people just buy what they want when they want or need it. I'm finding that people really appreciate more simple gifts that don't add clutter to their lives. I'm hoping to learn to make soap soon. I have all the stuff, just haven't done it. I even grew extra luffa this year thinking I would make soap with luffa in it for gifts. Good thing they don't go bad. I hope you have a wonderfully simple Christmas and thanks for being a newsletter subscriber.

Sandra Abercrombie

Saturday 19th of August 2017

I know it is only August but I am looking forward to the Christmas season, but I am worried also. This is my first year of retirement. I have enough to pay my bills and live comfortable but not a lot of extra. So I am worried about what I am going to do about Christmas gifts... This post has me thinking..... Thank you!

Angi Schneider

Sunday 20th of August 2017

Sandra, I totally understand and I'm glad this post helped you. Truly, I think we make gift giving a lot more complicated than it needs to be. I know your family and friends will feel your love come through with any gift you give them.

Jen Keith

Tuesday 8th of December 2015

Truly a fantastic post! This is the best one I've seen for homemade gifts because it's great for all age levels and they are really good gifts. Thanks.

Angi Schneider

Wednesday 9th of December 2015

Thanks Jen!


Sunday 6th of December 2015

It was really inspirational to read about your financial struggles in terms of making meaningful, yet inexpensive, gifts as a way of being a good model for your kids. Being a "getter" often comes naturally but teaching kids to be givers regardless of circumstance changes them for the better. What you shared really struck a chord with me and I wanted to thank you for disclosing that personal bit of information on your blog!

Angi Schneider

Sunday 6th of December 2015

Wow, thank you, Kelli. Your sweet words have really made my day. I really believe that children want to be givers, they just need to be allowed to do so.


Saturday 5th of December 2015

What an awesome post. Thank you for the direction and focus. Love you so dearly, Angi.

Angi Schneider

Sunday 6th of December 2015

Thanks so much Rhonda! I love this time of year and it makes me so sad to see people missing out because they think they have to spend, spend, spend.